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Sunday, February 03, 2008

The $20 Million License Plate

Want to know where your gas money is going? In Dubai, someone just bought a vanity license plate for $20 million. Congratulate yourself for that the next time you are filling up that giant SUV (which may or may not have vanity plates, purchased for peanuts in comparison).

The President's suggestion? He told the Saudi's "Pump more." That was his strategy.

OK. That strategy means that the next Dubai guy may raid his petty cash drawer and pay $40 million for his vanity plate, no problem! At $100 barrel oil, with China and India's energy demands growing, it's a sellers market. The prices are staying up even with a U.S. recession, which used to drop the price in the days of old.

The "bust" part of the old "boom-and-bust" cycle has gone out of the oil business in this energy-short world. And supplies won't improve with political chaos in oil countries like Iraq and Nigeria shutting down production -- and emerging ones in the Sudan, Chad, etc. In Nigeria, kidnapping oil workers has become a business in itself. It provides income in an oil rich area where people have none.

Outside this hotel room in Iowa it is 18 degrees. But our lack of a national, rational energy strategy to increase efficiencies could make us feel that bone-chilling weather even more. Our wallets will be feeling it, and feeding the vanity license market in the Middle East for decades to come.

On the personal front, Grandmother's 100th birthday party was held in a little VFW hall in a place called Garner. She was feeling well and looked great in her red sweater. Over 100 descendants were present.

One son said last night that she was so fired up that she wanted to keep talking even when her own kids were worn out and dragging (as I was after a big dinner and hours of catching up with other relative not seen in years). Grandma was the energizer bunny yesterday, wearing out her own kids! LOL.

Snow is piled up everywhere. Ethanol plants, Casinos that pay $4,500 for each student who graduates from high school, and new "windmill farms" have sprouted a countryside that had only corn when I was a kid living here decades ago. Switchgrass might be the new crop of the 21st century, since it provides 4 times more energy than Ethanol made with corn. Brazil does it with sugarcane.

We need more windmills and other alternatives to compete with $20 million vanity license plates.

The weather is going down, 3 inches of snow is predicted, so its time to bail out for a 2 hour drive in deteriorating conditions, or I'll miss the early morning flight tomorrow...

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